Spring 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of Schiffert Health Center’s Non-Smoking Hokie campaign, which has provided positive reinforcement for thousands of tobacco-free students.
The campaign distributes T-shirts to Virginia Tech students who complete a scheduled interview discussing their tobacco habits and who are smoke- and tobacco-free.
To celebrate the campaign’s anniversary, health education, the Health Education and Awareness Team, and Schiffert Health Center are planning a Non-Smoking Hokie T-shirt day on March 31, when those who have T-shirts are encouraged to wear them.
The Non-Smoking Hokie program was established to focus on preventing cigarette smoking, but quickly expanded to encompass the cessation of all types of tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco, hookahs, cigars, and pipes.
More than just a simple T-shirt giveaway, the campaign serves educational and awareness functions. Among those is education on social and weekend tobacco use. The campaign educates students that weekend or social smoking is part of the addiction process and that occasional tobacco users aren’t tobacco-free.
Another purpose of the campaign is to provide visible evidence that being tobacco-free is the choice of most Hokies. Wearing a Non-Smoking Hokie T-shirt allows non-smokers to make a statement and provides an impetus for discussion, education, and awareness.
“The T-shirts have been worn around Virginia Tech for a decade, and are seen regularly all over the country, and even occasionally outside of the United States,” said Jon Fritsch, assistant director of health education for Schiffert Health Center and one of the founders of the campaign. “We are thrilled that what began as an idea for a simple promotion has grown into a Virginia Tech health icon.”
Every person who receives a Non-Smoking Hokie T-shirt learns about the tobacco cessation services available through Schiffert Health Center. While it may seem odd to educate those who don’t use tobacco about these services, non-smokers are often the best people to encourage their friends who smoke or dip to quit, so it is valuable for them to be aware of the available resources.
In addition to the campaign T-shirts, Schiffert Health Center staff members regularly wear lab coats and scrubs with the Non-smoking Hokie logo on them, which keeps quitting in the forefront of discussions between patients and Schiffert healthcare providers. It also sends a positive health message to the student body.
More information on participating in the Non-Smoking Hokie T-Shirt campaign, is available on Schiffert Health Center’s tobacco-free Hokies website. Schiffert Health Center also offers numerous resources to assist with tobacco cessation. More information on their services is available online.
Virginia Tech Health Education is a department of the Schiffert Health Center within the Division of Student Affairs. Their mission is to help Hokies achieve lifelong health through teaching, workshops, public health promotions, and health counseling and is supported in part by the Dolores S. Schiffert Health Education Endowment.
Non-Smoking Hokie campaign volunteers
Volunteers from the Health Education and Awareness Team speak with students about tobacco use and provide information about Schiffert Health Center's cessation services.